Its that time of year again. Time to be wearin’ the green and celebrating your Irish ancestry–even if you’re Dutch, Italian, German or something else altogether different. If you can tell a colorful tale or talk your way out of a jam, then today my friend, you may be as full o’ blarney as any true Irishman.
The Blarney Stone is a single block of bluestone, the same material as the megaliths of Stonehenge. The iconic stone is set in a wall of Blarney Castle Tower, constructed in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, king of Munster, on the site of a demolished 13th century castle.
Some people believe the Blarney Stone is half of the original Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny, upon which the first King of Scots was seated during his coronation in 847. It is said that part of this stone was presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314. It was his gift to the Irish for supporting the Scots in the Battle of Bannockburn.
True to it’s name, however, the Blarney Stone is surrounded by tall tales and myths. Some stories are steeped in the history and culture of ages long gone. Others sound like, well… pure blarney. Hard to imagine? We are, after all, talking about the Blarney Stone and a country where stories grow as plentiful as clover in the lush green fields. Among some of the more colorful tales, we learn that the Stone was used by Jacob for his pillow and was brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah; that David hid behind the Stone while running from King Saul; it is the very rock Moses struck with his staff to supply the Israelites with water as they fled slavery in Egypt. Well, why not?
Another variation claims the stone was acquired during the Crusades and brought to Ireland during the middle ages. However, in 2014, geologists from the University of Glasgow shed some light on the Blarney Stone’s heritage when they concluded that the famous rock isn’t from Scotland but instead is made of 330-million-year-old limestone local to the south of Ireland.
The word “blarney,” meaning skillful flattery or nonsense, supposedly came into use following an incident involving the head of the McCarthy family and Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. The queen sent the earl of Leicester to seize Blarney Castle but the talkative McCarthy managed to keep stalling him. The queen grew exasperated by the earl’s reports about the lack of progress in the matter and uttered something to the effect of “it’s just more blarney.”